Thursday, November 08, 2012

[Travel] Oh See OC

Oh See OC: Again I hit Orange County. This time it was Miss Kate's 50th birthday and rented house in Laguna Beach.

Once again we made a run down to San Diego -- this time La Jolla. I love La Jolla. Walking along the shoreline. The Cove. The view. The sea lions. Tasty food everywhere. There are few better places in the world to spend a leisurely afternoon. This afternoon, however, was actually chilly. Or at least chilly for Southern California. We had given passing thought to renting kayaks for some exploration of the bay, and we could have had we been prepared for the chill and drizzle, but lack of rain and wind gear would have made it a bit of a grind. So we settled for trolling the shops and having a fine waterside lunch.

The next day was a Michigan football game so we had a mad scramble to find a sports bar that featured the game. We found one -- a fairly sophisticated one, Player's Sports Grill -- wedged into the corner of a strip mall. It had about a hundred and thirty TVs covering every square inch of wall space and each table was given it's own personal speaker. A serendipitous place to find when you want to watch a game that only of interest to people from the other side of the country. Outstanding game -- last minute victory.

This was followed by another mad scramble to get some warm and dry gear, because we had planned a sunset sailboat cruise in Newport Beach. Of course, in the overcast weather, "sunset" required quite an imagination. Still, Newport Beach harbor is lovely and over-the-top wealthy. We zipped in and around multi-million dollar homes and enormous yachts -- also some semi-abandoned floating pieces of junk. It seems that in Newport Beach harbor once you have possession of one of the mooring buoys you own it for good. With dock space all locked up tight, just having a piece of crap rowboat that's about to sink tied up to a buoy to reserve it is probably good for a hundred grand or so of net worth. So rusted and corroded half floating pieces of crap populate a fair number of them, just so the owner can hold on to them for investment purposes. Sea lions tend to occupy the truly abandoned ones, which surprisingly don't sink under their weight.

Despite the nasty weather, it was nice to be out on the water and sailing, even if we only got out in the Pacific for a few minutes before darkness drove us back into the harbor where we voyeuristically gazed into the sparkling homes and restaurants and the skipper regaled us with stories of the madness of the rich folk.

And that was it for everyone else. The next morning they were all off to the airport for their flights home. I, cleverly, booked myself one more day which I spent, at the suggestion of Miss Anna, in San Clemente.

As sweet a SoCal beach town as you will find. San Clemente doesn't really have the high-end vibe of a Newport Beach or La Jolla and it lacks the crowded intensity of Laguna Beach or Dana Point. It's just a sparklingly lovely little place with the nicest beach I've yet experienced is So Cal. the only one that approaches the beauty and accessibility of a Florida beach. In fact, the place reminds me of one of my favorite spots in Florida, Delray Beach. It has a long main street of little shops and cafes, then a short walk through a residences -- mostly mid-mod with some med-style -- and down towards the end is the beach. And in San Clemente you get a long pier stretching into the Pacific with a buzzing clapboard fish and beer house at it's base that undoubtedly fills up with people at sunset. I settled into a bar across the street from the beach for a light lunch of fish tacos, bloody marys, and football. I could have happily chilled out there all afternoon.

I suspect it will be awhile until I get back to SoCal. (Unless Michigan gets in the Rose Bowl.) Next year probably -- hopefully during better weather. I'm going to be angling for San Clemente as a base of operations.